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Bill balks at federal health law

Published (2/18/2011)
By Patty Ostberg
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Making a clear statement against the federal health care law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) offered the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.”

The federal health care law, approved by Congress last year, has been a point of contention over state’s rights. Gottwalt, who sponsors HF199, told the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee Feb. 16, it would declare that it is state public policy for every resident to have the freedom of choice in choosing whether or not to carry health care insurance.

The bill was approved on a party-line vote and moves to the House Government Operations and Elections Committee.

Gottwalt said the federal law violates state’s rights to choose how to govern care for residents. Minnesota is known as a model state for health care delivery with one of the lowest rates of uninsured residents, and the state “must not surrender” it’s health care leadership to the federal changes.

Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, said the federal law ties the hands of patients by making them choose from government plans.

Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) countered that the federal law gives people the freedom to have affordable health care coverage without going bankrupt. While people will be required to purchase health insurance, the government isn’t “telling you what to buy,” she said. Additionally, everyone is paying for uncompensated care for those without insurance now, she added.

Rep. Mike Benson (R-Rochester) said it still forces people to pay for something, even if they are picking from an array of choices.

The Senate companion, SF33, sponsored by Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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